Protesters call for path to residency for security guards, food and maintenance workers in healthcare system
MONTREAL -- While public pressure has forced the Quebec government to offer some refugee claimants who work in the province's healthcare system a path to residency, front line workers are calling for the program to be expanded.
A group of healthcare workers demonstrated in front of the immigration offices in Montreal on Saturday. While some said there has been a sense of optimism since the program was announced by the federal government earlier this month, the protesters said what is being offered is too narrow.
“The program the government came up with is unjust,” said Debout pour la dignite spokesperson Jerry Alexandre. “It excludes too many people. Everyone working here in Quebec to help during the pandemic, they're all essential. They're all front line workers and I believe they should all be included in the program.”
Under the terms of the program, roughly 1,000 workers qualify to secure residency. Security guards, maintenance workers and people involved in food preparation in hospitals and CHSLDs are not eligible.
“We have hundreds of people who are suffering, who are working for the health system and unfortunately are being pushed to the side,” said Liberal MNA Frantz Benjamin.
Demonstrators said they plan to continue protesting on Sunday and that the ineligible workers will continue to be vital as Canada in general, and Quebec specifically, braces for a possible second wave of COVID-19.
“We're still fighting the fight because I think it's important,” said one orderly who asked to be idenfied only as Gaelle. “Because they are also as essential as us PABs.”